Dr Ian Wood

BSc, Imperial; PhD 1992, University College, London.
Senior Lecturer in Neuroscience
School of Biomedical Sciences

Background: Postdoctoral work at Scripps Research Institute and University College, London. Joined the School of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Leeds in October, 1999.

Contact: Garstang G6.41c, +44(0) 113 34 37922, email address for  

Research Interests

Uncovering the molecular mechanisms that control the gene expression in human disease

We are interested in identifying the molecular mechanisms that are important in regulating gene transcription in human disease. Our work uses many molecular biological techniques, in vitro and in vivo model systems as well as clinical samples to provide a complete understanding of disease mechanisms.

figure 1Current Projects

Cardiovascular disease: Smooth muscle cells within blood vessels are important for controlling blood flow and pressure. In response to damage these cells proliferate to produce new smooth muscle cells which are important for vascular repair, but excessive proliferation is a major factor in cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, in-stent restenosis and a contributing factor to cardiovascular disease associated with diabetes. We have recently identified that the transcription factor REST plays an important role in normal blood vessels by repressing genes important for smooth muscle cell proliferation, including a specific potassium channel (IKCa) that is important for vascular smooth muscle proliferation. We are currently interested in the other molecular mechanisms that are responsible for increasing IKCa expression levels in disease as well as identifying the contributions of environmental factors in promoting changes in gene expression.

Neuronal disease: Correct functioning of the nervous system requires that neurones are able to communicate with each other effectively. Neurones transmit signals via propagation of action potentials, the regulation of which is of utmost importance. One ion channel important in determining the excitability of neurones is the M-channel which is composed of subunits of the KCNQ potassium channel gene family. Mutations in KCNQ genes have been linked to heart disease, epilepsy, deafness and most recently pain. Despite their obvious importance, very little is known about how expression of these potassium channel genes is regulated. We are interested in determining how expression of these genes is regulated in normal physiology and in neuronal disorders such as epilepsy and chronic pain.

Cancer: The transcription factor REST is associated with neuronal and non-neuronal cancers. REST is normally expressed at very low levels in neurones though increased REST expression is associated with a type of childhood brain cancer – medulloblastoma. In non-neuronal cells REST is normally expressed at quite high levels and reduced REST expression has recently been associated with colon cancer and may also be important in other cancers such as breast cancer. We are currently investigating a potential role for REST in bladder cancer and determining the cell specific effects of altered REST expression to understand the mechanisms by which REST can act as a tumour suppressor or an oncogene.

Our work is supported by the British Heart Foundation, Yorkshire Cancer Research and the Wellcome Trust.


Faculty Research and Innovation

Studentship information

Undergraduate project topics:

  • Projects in all of the above areas are available. Enthusiastic and committed students are encouraged to make specific enquiries.

Postgraduate studentship areas:

  • Applications are welcome from enthusiastic, committed students and postdocs to work on any of the above projects

See also:

Modules managed

BMSC2231 - Topics in Neuroscience
BMSC3399 - Extended Research Project Preparation
BMSC5382M - Extended Research Project

Modules taught

BMSC1103 - Basic Laboratory and Scientific Skills
BMSC1110/SPSC1220 - Foundation modules
BMSC1210/SPSC1222 - Biology of the Mind/Neuroscience for Exercise Science
BMSC1213 - Basic Laboratory and Scientific Skills 2
BMSC2118 - Neurobiology
BMSC2120 - Scientific Skills
BMSC2224 - Principles of Drug Discovery
BMSC2231 - Topics in Neuroscience
BMSC2235 - Molecular Neuroscience
BMSC3140 - Advanced Scientific Skills
BMSC3143/44/45/46 H - ATU - Synaptic plasticitiy
BMSC3301 - Research Project in Biomedical Sciences
BMSC3302 - Medical Pharmacology
BMSC3399 - Extended Research Project Preparation
BMSC5382M - Extended Research Project

Centre memberships:

Group Leader Dr Ian Wood  (Senior Lecturer in Neuroscience)

Uncovering the molecular mechanisms that control the gene expression in human disease 


Abdulelah Alshawli (Co-supervisor) 40% FTE
Ruth Butler-Ryan (Primary supervisor) 50% FTE
Zeqian Gao (Co-supervisor) 10% FTE
Frederick Jones (Co-supervisor) 50% FTE
Sabah Khan (Co-supervisor) 10% FTE
Daniel Thwaites (Co-supervisor) 10% FTE

Alshanwani AR, Riches-Suman K, O'Regan DJ, Wood IC, Turner NA, Porter KE MicroRNA-21 drives the switch to a synthetic phenotype in human saphenous vein smooth muscle cells IUBMB Life, 2018
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Durham BS, Grigg R, Wood IC Inhibition of histone deacetylase 1 or 2 reduces induced cytokine expression in microglia through a protein synthesis independent mechanism Journal of Neurochemistry 143 214-224, 2017
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Riches K, Huntriss J, Keeble C, Wood IC, O'Regan DJ, Turner NA, Porter KE Mapping the methylation status of the miR-145 promoter in saphenous vein smooth muscle cells from individuals with type 2 diabetes Diabetes and Vascular Disease Research 14 122-129, 2017
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Moravec CE, Samuel J, Weng W, Wood IC, Sirotkin HI Maternal Rest/Nrsf regulates zebrafish behavior through snap25a/b Journal of Neuroscience 36 9407-9419, 2016
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Riches K, Alshanwani AR, Warburton P, O'Regan DJ, Ball SG, Wood IC, Turner NA, Porter KE Elevated expression levels of miR-143/5 in saphenous vein smooth muscle cells from patients with Type 2 diabetes drive persistent changes in phenotype and function. J Mol Cell Cardiol 74 240-250, 2014
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Murrell A, Hurd PJ, Wood IC Epigenetic Mechanisms in Development and Disease BIOCHEMICAL SOCIETY TRANSACTIONS 41 697-699, 2013

Hatano N, Itoh Y, Suzuki H, Muraki Y, Hayashi H, Onozaki K, Wood IC, Beech DJ, Muraki K Hypoxia-inducible Factor-1 alpha (HIF1 alpha) Switches on Transient Receptor Potential Ankyrin Repeat 1 (TRPA1) Gene Expression via a Hypoxia Response Element-like Motif to Modulate Cytokine Release JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY 287 31962-31972, 2012

Bowater RP, Wood IC, Luisi BF From beads on a string to the pearls of regulation: The structure and dynamics of chromatin Biochemical Society Transactions 40 331-334, 2012
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Stead LF, Wood IC, Westhead DR KvSNP: accurately predicting the effect of genetic variants in voltage-gated potassium channels BIOINFORMATICS 27 2181-2186, 2011

Wood IC Uncovering combinatorial interactions in chromatin Epigenomics-UK 3 371-379, 2011
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Rose K, Ooi L, Dalle C, Robertson B, Wood IC, Gamper N Transcriptional repression of the M channel subunit Kv7.2 in chronic nerve injury PAIN 152 742-754, 2011

Cheong A, Li J, Sukumar P, Kumar B, Zeng F, Riches K, Munsch C, Wood IC, Porter KE, Beech DJ Potent suppression of vascular smooth muscle cell migration and human neointimal hyperplasia by K(V)1.3 channel blockers CARDIOVASC RES 89 282-289, 2011

Mucha M, Ooi L, Linley JE, Mordaka P, Dalle C, Robertson B, Gamper N, Wood IC Transcriptional Control of KCNQ Channel Genes and the Regulation of Neuronal Excitability Journal of Neuroscience 30 13235-13245, 2010
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Stead LF, Wood IC, Westhead DR KvDB; Mining and Mapping Sequence Variants in Voltage-Gated Potassium Channels HUM MUTAT 31 908-917, 2010

Wood IC, Gray NK, Jones L Gene Expression in Neuronal Disease BIOCHEM SOC T 37 1261-1262, 2009

Johnson R, Samuel J, Ng CKL, Jauch R, Stanton LW, Wood IC Evolution of the Vertebrate Gene Regulatory Network Controlled by the Transcriptional Repressor REST Molecular Biology and Evolution 26 1491-1507, 2009
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Ooi L, Rose KE, Linley JE, Mucha M, Wood IC, Gamper N Regulation Of Kcnq2/3 Channels By The Transcriptional Repressor REST In Nociception, 2009

Ooi L, Wood IC Regulation of gene expression in the nervous system BIOCHEM J 414 327-341, 2008

Ooi L, Wood IC Chromatin switching and transcriptional regulation in disease BIOCHEM SOC T 36 599-602, 2008

Fountain SJ, Cheong A, Li J, Dondas NY, Zeng F, Wood IC, Beech DJ K(V)1.5 potassium channel gene regulation by Sp1 transcription factor and oxidative stress American Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology 293 2719-2725, 2007
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Turner NA, Aley PK, Hall KT, Warburton P, Galloway S, Midgley L, O'Regan DJ, Wood IC, Ball SG, Porter KE Simvastatin inhibits TNF alpha-induced invasion of human cardiac myofibroblasts via both MMP-9-dependent and -independent mechanisms J MOL CELL CARDIOL 43 168-176, 2007

Ooi L, Wood IC Chromatin crosstalk in development and disease: lessons from REST NAT REV GENET 8 544-554, 2007

Bingham AJ, Ooi L, Kozera L, White E, Wood IC The repressor element 1-silencing transcription factor regulates heart-specific gene expression using multiple chromatin-modifying complexes MOL CELL BIOL 27 4082-4092, 2007

Bingham AJ, Ooi L, Wood IC Multiple chromatin modifying complexes are required for REST to regulate cardiac specific gene expression Molecular and Cellular Biology 1138-1140, 2007

Ooi L, Belyaev ND, Miyake K, Wood IC, Buckley NJ BRG1 chromatin remodeling activity is required for efficient chromatin binding by repressor element 1-silencing transcription factor (REST) and facilitates REST-mediated repression J BIOL CHEM 281 38974-38980, 2006

Bingham AJ, Ooi L, Wood IC Multiple chromatin modifications important for gene expression changes in cardiac hypertrophy BIOCHEM SOC T 34 1138-1140, 2006
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Bruce AW, Krejci A, Ooi L, Deuchars J, Wood IC, Dolezal V, Buckley NJ The transcriptional repressor REST is a critical regulator of the neurosecretory phenotype J NEUROCHEM 98 1828-1840, 2006

Cheong A, Wood IC, Beech DJ Less REST, more vascular disease? CELL CYCLE 5 129-131, 2006

Johnson R, Gamblin RJ, Ooi L, Bruce AW, Donaldson IJ, Westhead DR, Wood IC, Jackson RM, Buckley NJ Identification of the REST regulon reveals extensive transposable element-mediated binding site duplication NUCLEIC ACIDS RES 34 3862-3877, 2006

Cheong A, Bingham AJ, Li J, Kumar B, Sukumar P, Munsch C, Buckley NJ, Neylon CB, Porter KE, Beech DJ, Wood IC Downregulated REST Transcription Factor Is a Switch Enabling Critical Potassium Channel Expression and Cell Proliferation Molecular Cell 20 45-52, 2005
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Bruce AW, Donaldson IJ, Wood IC, Yerbury SA, Sadowski MI, Chapman M, Gottgens B, Buckley NJ Genome-wide analysis of repressor element 1 silencing transcription factor/neuron-restrictive silencing factor (REST/NRSF) target genes P NATL ACAD SCI USA 101 10458-10463, 2004

Wood IC, Belyaev ND, Bruce AW, Jones C, Mistry M, Roopra A, Buckley NJ Interaction of the Repressor Element 1-silencing Transcription Factor (REST) with Target Genes Journal of Molecular Biology 334 863-874, 2003
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Belyaev ND, Wood IC, Bruce AW, Street M, Trinh JB, Buckley NJ Distinct RE-1 Silencing Transcription Factor-containing Complexes Interact with Different Target Genes Journal of Biological Chemistry 279 556-561, 2003
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Pais I, Hormuzdi SG, Monyer H, Traub RD, Wood IC, Buhl EH, Whittington MA, LeBeau FEN Sharp wave-like activity in the hippocampus in vitro in mice lacking the gap junction protein connexin 36. J Neurophysiol 89 2046-2054, 2003
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Pais I, Monyer H, Traub RD, Wood IC, Whittington MA, Buhl EH, Le Beau FEN Sharp-wave burst discharges in the hippocampus in vitro in mice lacking the gap junction protein connexin 36. Journal of Neurophysiology 89 2046-2054, 2003

Wood I One in the eye for herpes simplex virus. Trends in pharmacological sciences 23 355-356, 2002

Wood IC Pro-inflammatory mechanisms of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Trends in pharmacological sciences 23 109-, 2002

Selyanko AA, Delmas P, Hadley JK, Tatulian L, Wood IC, Mistry M, London B, Brown DA Dominant-Negative Subunits Reveal Potassium Channel Families That Contribute to M-Like Potassium Currents Journal of Neuroscience 22 pp.RC212-, 2002

Wood IC Regulation of gene expression by the anticonvulsant VPA suggests potential new uses Trends in Pharmacological Sciences 23 pp.10-, 2002

Wood IC The real fat controller? A glucose-responsive transcription factor Trends in Pharmacological Sciences 22 pp.499-, 2001

Wood IC Transcription factors move with the glow Trends in Pharmacological Sciences 22 pp.166-, 2001

Wood IC How can anti-diabetics suppress tumours? Trends in Pharmacological Sciences 22 pp.399-, 2001

Hadley JK, Noda M, Selyanko AA, Wood IC, Abogadie FC, Brown DA Differential tetraethylammonium sensitivity of KCNQ1-4 potassium channels. Br J Pharmacol 129 413-415, 2000
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Selyanko AA, Hadley JK, Wood IC, Abogadie FC, Jentsch TJ, Brown DA Inhibition of KCNQ1-4 potassium channels expressed in mammalian cells via M1 muscarinic acetylcholine receptors Journal of Physiology 522 349-355, 2000

Roopra A, Sharling L, Wood IC, Briggs T, Bachfischer U, Paquette AJ, Buckley NJ Transcriptional repression by neuron-restrictive silence factor is mediated via the sin3-histone deacetylase complex Molecular and Cellular Biology 20 2147-2157, 2000
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Tatulian L, Selyanko AA, Wood I, Abogadie FC, Buckley NJ, Delmas P, Brown DA Dominant negative KCNQ4 blocks M-current in sympathetic neurones EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE 12 453-453, 2000

WOOD IC, GARRIGA CANUT M, PALMER CL, PEPITONI S, BUCKLEY NJ Neuronal expression of the rat M1 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor gene is regulated by elements in the first exon Biochemical Journal 340 475-475, 1999

Wood IC, Garriga M, Palmer CL, Pepitoni S, Buckley NJ Neuronal expression of the rat M1 mucarinic acetylcholine receptor gene is regulated by elements in the first exon Biochemical Journal 1:340 475-483, 1999

Selyanko AA, Hadley JK, Wood IC, Abogadie FC, Delmas P, Buckley NJ, London B, Brown DA Two types of K+ channel subunit, Erg1 and KCNQ2/3, contribute to the M-like current in a mammalian neuronal cell Journal of Neuroscience 19 7742-7756, 1999

Pepitoni S, Wood IC, Buckley NJ Structure of the m1 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor gene and its promoter Journal of Biological Chemistry 272 17112-17117, 1997

Wood IC, Roopra A, Buckley NJ Neural specific expression of the m4 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor gene is mediated by a RE1/NRSE-type silencing element Journal of Biological Chemistry 271 14221-14225, 1996

Wood IC, Roopra A, Harrington C, Buckley NJ Structure of the m4 cholinergic muscarinic receptor gene and its promoter J BIOL CHEM 270 30933-30940, 1995

Holst BD, Goomer RS, Wood IC, Edelman GM, Jones FS Binding and activation of the promoter for the neural cell adhesion molecule by Pax-8. J Biol Chem 269 22245-22252, 1994
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Goomer RS, Holst BD, Wood IC, Jones FS, Edelman GM Regulation in vitro of an L-CAM enhancer by homeobox genes HoxD9 and HNF-1. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 91 7985-7989, 1994
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Mauro VP, Wood IC, Krushel L, Crossin KL, Edelman GM Cell adhesion alters gene transcription in chicken embryo brain cells and mouse embryonal carcinoma cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 91 2868-2872, 1994
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Ooi L, Wood IC Identifying Transcriptional Regulatory Regions Using Reporter Genes and DNA-Protein Interactions by Chromatin Immunoprecipitation. In Potassium Channels
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